Every year in golf a few players who have been playing on the European Tour decide to give the PGA Tour a try for a year, and vice versa. In some cases those moves are high profile – especially when a guy from Europe tries the higher profile PGA. Other times the move is more practical – like when a PGA player struggling to return from injury looks to Europe as an easier road back to success. Whenever a player makes a move like this it is important for handicappers to be able to assess how well they will handle it. That can lead to strong betting decisions early in the season if you feel that the public doesn’t have an accurate assessment of the strength of the player. Here are seven factors for golf bettors to consider when looking at these players on the move:
Why are they moving? – As I talked about earlier there are several reasons why a golfer is making a move – injury, need for a bigger challenge, looking for somewhere they can be more competitive, a more suitable style of play, the need for a change to shake up their game, and so on. Some of these reasons can be seen as positive and reasons to be optimistic. Others are clearly reasons to be pessimistic – or at least cautious. The better you can understand the motivation the more likely you can assess their readiness to play when the season starts.
What is their playing style? – A PGA player isn’t likely to make a change if their new tour doesn’t suit their playing style at all. Still, the differences in course styles – like links courses in Europe compared to the wide open highways in the U.S. for example – will take some adjustment. The more adaptable a player has proven to be, and the better they have performed on the styles of courses they will be facing, the easier they are to trust in the short term in their new home.
How have they done internationally before? – Chances are pretty good that a golfer who is considering a move like this has played internationally in the past at some point – and likely more than once. By looking back at how they have played in their previous international forays you’ll get a sense of how well they are likely to adapt here. Clearly, the more experience they have in playing in their new environment the easier the transition is likely to be and the more attractive a bet they become.
What is their recent form? – When you are handicapping a guy on the PGA Tour from one year to the next you are going to look closely at their recent form. Are they improving? Have they been dealing with major or minor injuries? Have they been regularly competitive, or have they struggled with their consistency. Despite the change of tours the same issues are of concern here. If they closed their season very poorly and gave us real reasons to be concerned about them then the change of scenery may not be enough to change that.
What is the comparative strength of the tours right now? – It is generally perceived that the PGA is tougher, deeper and more competitive than the European Tour. While that is generally true it can be more or less accurate from year to year depending on any number of factors. When assessing how well a player may handle the change, then, it is important to be sure of what the current comparative strength of the two tours are. Is the PGA currently significantly stronger, or is the European Tour in a position of real strength. By understanding how the two tours compare you can get a better sense of how well the player is likely to stack up in his new tour.
How committed are they? – Is the player truly committed to playing on the tour, or are they treating it like a vacation? Are they moving to their new country, or just visiting? Are they planning to play a full schedule or just a few tournaments? What kind of status do they have on the new tour? Have they sought out the support they need to thrive in their new environment – like a new caddy or coach who knows the tour, for example. The more committed a golfer is to a change, the more likely they are to succeed.
Will the public care? – Some PGA players who make the change do so with some fanfare. They are reasonably well known to the fans and bettors in their new tour because of past high profile wins or general success. Other players will barely be noticed on their new tour because they were barely noticed on their old one. The more the public cares about a new player on a tour, the more you have to be aware of the impact of the public money on the odds of that player when making your bets.